How to help someone who had a stroke 

Supporting a loved one through their stroke recovery journey demands a blend of empathy, patience, and an understanding of their specific health challenges. The path to recovery hinges on neuroplasticity—the brain’s remarkable ability to rewire itself and forge new neural pathways. This process is crucial for regaining lost skills and adapting new ones, especially in areas like language, communication, and basic motor functions. As caregivers and friends, offering emotional support, fostering independence, and understanding the roles of various rehabilitation therapies are pivotal steps. Through a combination of listening, encouraging self-reliance, and facilitating access to specialized therapies like speech, physical, and occupational therapy, caregivers play a critical role in the survivor’s journey towards reclaiming their independence and quality of life.

Empowering Stroke Recovery: Understanding, Support, and Independence

  • Get the details: Learn more about the stroke survivor’s specific health issues and needs so that you can provide the right kind of assistance.  
  • Offer emotional support: Be an ear for your friend by listening to their fears, issues, and practical concerns. Do not be downcast when they are reluctant to talk to you.  
  • Encourage independence: Even though you may want to help them, allowing them to be independent. Offer some assistance but allow them to complete tasks by themselves. To increase neuroplasticity, the survivor should attend various kinds of therapy. If you do everything for them, their brain may not receive the stimulation needed to activate neuroplasticity, which slows down their recovery.  


Rehabilitation after stroke 

Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to create new neural pathways after a stroke, is the key to gaining skills such as language and communication as the brain is using new and healthy areas to regain the function of language. Repetition is also a major key here as it increases neuroplasticity.  

  • Speech Therapy: Speech-language pathologists evaluate, identify, and treat abnormalities of the voice, language, swallowing capacity, cognitive function, speech, and other associated areas. In collaboration with the patient’s caretakers, a SLP develops a customized treatment plan that meets the patient’s requirements with the goal to assist the patient in reaching the maximum level of language and communication proficiency. People recovering from stroke can learn new ways of communicating or rediscover language and speaking abilities with the aid of speech therapy. People who struggle with speech formation or interpreting written words, but not with cognition or reasoning, might consider speech therapy. They may also learn coping mechanisms to manage the frustration of their limited communication abilities.  
  • Physical therapy: The main goal of physical therapy is to help survivors regain knowledge of basic motor activities such as walking, sitting, standing, lying down, and switching from one movement to the other. Physical therapists use training and exercises to help survivors. They can also use passive exercises, where the muscles in the affected part of the body are moved by the therapist, stimulating the muscles, and activating neuroplasticity. This creates and improves the connection between the mind and muscle and the survivor may soon regain limb movement and muscle activation.  
  • Occupational therapy: Those who need assistance with relearning daily functions like eating, drinking, and swallowing, dressing, bathing, cooking, reading, and writing, as well as using the restroom, can benefit from occupational therapy. This kind also includes training and exercise. Occupational therapists can provide recommendations for changes to the home or place of employment that will enable the client to return to a semi-independent or independent lifestyle. OTs and SLP work on cognitive skills simultaneously.  
  • Vocational rehabilitation: Re-entry into the employment is facilitated by vocational rehabilitation. The age group of 45 to 65 accounts for about 25% of all stroke cases. Most persons in this age bracket are really concerned about going back to work. Relearning the more difficult skills used on the job or picking up new ones for a different role could be involved. People with long-term disabilities can seek new employment options if needed, as well as identify their strengths and job skills, with the assistance of vocational therapists. 


Communicating with a stroke survivor 

To communicate effectively with a left-brain stroke survivor,  

  • Be patient.  
  • Turn off all distractions such as TV.  
  • Keep the questions and commands simple.  
  • Speak in a normal voice.  
  • Allow the person to process the information and formulate a response.  
  • Do not pressure or rush them.  


At TBC, our Lebanese therapists in Dubai specialize in speech therapy, along with occupational and psychomotor therapy, offering sessions in Arabic, French, and English to assist patients in overcoming their challenges.